Nov 23, 2007

Do we Need Walls?

What is it about neighbors that makes them so curious about each other?  Why do we need to know what goes on in someone else's house? Oh, I can understand someone not wanting a meth lab next door, but day to day comings and goings, personal details, what is the reason for that?  Have we always been like this?

For some reason, it always blows me away when I find that someone has made some comment about me.  Why? I am surely no one special. It makes me think of this:

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,

But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father's saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1916, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1939, 1947, 1949, © 1969 by Holt Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Copyright 1936, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, © 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 by Robert Frost. Copyright © 1962, 1967, 1970 by Leslie Frost Ballantine.


One of my favorite poems. Who do you think is right? The one who wants to tear it down, or the one who thinks it is necessary for good neighbors?


Spadoman said...

I see you're up early, or didn't you ever go to sleep? Me too. The trip to Thanksgiving dinner went well. No horn locking. Son-in-law was cordial and polite and attentive and friendly. I was the same right from the start. I had decided that I would crawl around on the floor with Gracie, the littlest one. And I would understand if i didn't get hugs and kisses from the others.

But they came to me, running, arms open, they hugged, kissed. Yoody, the 3 year old, hugged me a lot. We had dinner, then came home. We brought the three older ones home with us to spend the rest of the weekend. Mom and Dad will come and get them Sunday. So I am with those that I love so very much, with no fences, just miles at times, between us.

When I was there, at their new place, I saw a fence. They live in a side-by-side duplex. I asked about the fence. I asked, "Is the fence the landlord's, or the tenants?"

I was told the land lord put it up because the neighbor wanted a fence. I didn't get an answer as to why the neighbor wanted a fence. It is a high ugly fence and looks out of place. I immediately thought that these people wanted to fence themselves in, and not trying to keep others out. Must be tweakers :-)

Hope all is good with you.

By the way, I don't need fences. But I have heard that expression before, that good fences make good neighbors. I guess it is only true if the neighbors are assholes, and you usually don't find that out until after you move in.

Peace to All.

Queenie said...

It would depend what they wish to hide from or what they want to view, or is that the Spring mischief in me?
Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one, did you know who come?
Love this poem, I may just copy it and send it to my neighbour who is obsessed with their boundaries...

just me said...

Spado, Glad you had a nice visit. And that nothing spoiled the day. And having the grandbabies all weekend, to love and spoil to your hearts content....heaven, I do believe. My "granddaughter" wants to live with us, the one that EJ raised. But he has no legal grounds for obtaining custody, as he was never married to his fiance. Perhaps we can find a workaround. I think I would love it.

just me said...

Ah, Queenie, ever the clever one. As kids we would have a fit if someone planted a rose bush on my Daddy's land, but he didn't give a rat's ass about it. Right now, I could use a wall, but generally I'm more of an "open range" type of person.

alphonsedamoose said...

Fences can be good or bad. It used to be that neighbours had respect for each other and fences were not needed. But now it seems everyone is only concerned about themselves and have no respect for there neighbours so fences become a necessity.

BBC said...

I live on a very quite block, an old lady on one side of me, and a much younger lady on the other side of me. And because this property used to be a recycling yard there is an eight foot fence between us.

But I've spoke to her a few times and she is very friendly. There is an old crank across the street but we all ignore him, as he does us.

As for walls, I note that a lot of folks build invisible brick walls around themselves.

I hope that you had a good T-day.

just me said...

Well said, bbc, and good to see you back. I am notorious for my invisible walls. Once inside though, I'm a friend for life.

just me said...

Moose, you and I are old school. Yes, I think sometimes you need walls, just to keep from seeing the ugliness in the world. Not the need, but the offensive.

alphonsedamoose said...

Old school we are. The small town I grew up in had hardly any fences. You could go from yard to yard to yard. People were more friendly and open then.

BRUNO said...

Sorry, but I think I'll keep the walls. I like having the control over who is allowed in my life, and who is not.

Many a time I've been asked, "How can you STAND it, with only your WIFE as a close friend?" My favorite comeback to that: "Well, I think you've answered your own question! Why do YOU need MORE than "just your wife" to talk to? Does that mean other people---like ME--- just ignore 9 out of 10 things that you say?"

I rest MY case!!!

Babzy said...

I vote for fences because without them the neighbour's dog will come waltzing over and poop on my yard.

singleton said...

Ahhhh, fences....I never knew a thing about them, other than I had one in the back yard, until the hurricanes took them all away....
and suddenly we were naked.....

the screen porch light is always on, the front lawn is open, children can cut through the yard, peddle cookies door to door, but backyards are like bedrooms....

And I like to wear my pajamas there!

Peace~love girlfriend!

eric1313 said...

Do we need anything else to divide us?

Fences prevent people from caring, from coming together. Sure, they hem in our land, but openness is so much more valuable. Sharing the land is what we were meant for. Land, resources and money are the roots of all wars. Fences are a symbol of our greed to keep what we see as ours to ourselves, as well as a line we dare others to cross.

just me said...

Eric, a wonderful comment. I think you've hit the nail on the head. Fences can be a way for us to keep what we have, and it is kind of a challenge to us isn't. We see a fence, and what do we do, try to climb it.

Singleton, you just described my home, too. I keep an open door policy, maybe too open, in today's society, but there it is. Good to see you.